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Thursday, 4 April 2019
Page: 14997


Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (11:01): So much promise was invested in the budget this week. This was the budget of the Morrison government, following on from the Turnbull and Abbott governments. This would be the clean break where we would see a whole different direction and new ideas that would be potentially emerging out of this document. There was much faith and very little to show for it as a result of Tuesday night because, despite the promise that there would be a lot of difference in this budget as a result of this new Prime Minister and a new Treasurer, we pretty much saw more of the same.

I see this particularly in the portfolio that I am proud to be a shadow minister for, Human Services, where we saw not a clean break but a continuation of the same old agenda when it comes to Centrelink and Medicare. In respect of the Department of Human Services, what did we see? Over many years we have seen job cuts, we have seen worsening service and we have seen complaints soar. What we saw on Tuesday night, again, was more of the same. It can be summed up in this way: more jobs to go, more robo-debt to come.

One of the things that stood out in my mind was more job cuts at the Department of Human Services. Two hundred jobs that we have identified have been targeted to go out of the Department of Human Services. It's not enough that they've cut 2,500 jobs from the Department of Human Services in the last few years, principally covering Centrelink and Medicare; they're cutting more. Not satisfied with the jobs that have gone, they're cutting more jobs out.

The other thing that was revealed in that budget is the expected $2 billion saving on the way in which income will be treated through what is known as the Single Touch Payroll system and the automation of decision-making in there. There's no problem with applying technology to do things efficiently if you have thought ahead about the impact. We saw what happened with automated decision-making under this government through robo-debt, where people were sent notices of debts that they did not owe because the system had not been designed properly. This is a disgrace. People were sent debt notices, they paid them and they never actually owed the debt. This government is looking to potentially ratchet that up in what it's claiming will be a $2 billion saving. As I said, under this budget: more jobs to go, more robo-debt to come, no lessons learned by this government and no change in the way that they're treating the recipients who use Centrelink and Medicare services.

Our side of politics is committed to different. We have said we will invest in better jobs and better service. We have announced in the last year 1,200 jobs—permanent full-time roles in Centrelink and Medicare across the country in places where there is high need for those services or where an investment in those jobs will mean something for local economies and communities. I have been proud of the announcements that we have made through the course of the year designed to do just that. We want to see a reduction in wait times. We want to see improvements in service. We want to see permanent full-time roles where people are trained up and can provide the service required instead of always running to a contractor to provide those services, as those opposite do. Centrelink, for the coalition, is simply a target—a target to cut jobs, to cut service and to make life harder for average Australians. It's just wrong, and Labor are committed to change.

In my final moments in respect of this speech, I want to send out a huge congratulations to Yasodai Selvakumaran, a humanities teacher in her ninth year at Rooty Hill High School in my electorate of Chifley. Rooty Hill High has been doing some terrific things, thinking ahead about how to prepare young people in our area in Western Sydney for, particularly, the way that work will roll out into the future and building up their skills. Rooty Hill High was named as one of Australia's 40 most innovative schools in 2016 and 2017, and Yasodai was recognised as one of the 30 rising stars under the age of 35 in Australian education by The Educator magazine. I want to congratulate Yas for recently being shortlisted as a top 10 candidate for the 2019 Global Teacher Prize. She travelled to Dubai to represent our community. We are extremely proud of her achievements, her dedication and what she's doing to prepare young people for jobs of the future.